Travel Information

Domestic Lodging Calculator


The conference I'm attending is located where the room rate is above the per diem rate established. Am I able to go over the maximum per diem rate?

If the conference you are attending is at a specific hotel or sponsors specific hotels, this would be an allowable exception to go over the per diem rate. Actual expenses are still to be reimbursed, with a proper itemized final folio. You must submit a conference agenda or similar documentation to be able to show that the hotel you are staying at is above the specified rate for the location. When submitting an expense report, the documentation must be attached, and a note should be added to the memo field in the lodging expense item memo field.



What are other instances in which I can be reimbursed above the maximum lodging rate?

Exceptions for lodging costs that exceed limits may be allowed based on the business case and where appropriately documented. These exceptions include but are not limited to:

  • Staying in a hotel that is the location of the conference, or is sponsored by the conference that the traveler is attending.
  • If you are staying in town where there is a major event that limits available rooms in that city (i.e. state or county fairs, state tournaments, festivals, etc.).
  • There are few or one lodging facility within a reasonable distance to the location of ISU business, and all reasonable lodging choices are above the specified rate.

The previously mentioned exceptions will be allowable and do not require prior approval, but sufficient documentation must be provided in order to have the expense report approved. A Procurement and Expense Specialist, Grant Finance Specialist, or Cost Center Manager can reject an expense report if proper documentation is not provided.

Other exceptions can be handled on a case-by-case basis and must be approved by Controller’s Department prior to travel. Contact Jordan Tietz at (515) 294-5181 or jtietz@iastate.edu with any questions.



My lodging is over the maximum per diem due to additional taxes, is this an allowable exception?

Only the base room rate is used to establish per diem rates. All other mandatory fees, taxes, etc. are not factored in.



How do I find the maximum lodging rate for my trip?

  • All lodging within the State of Iowa is limited to $96 per night room rate. See the Summary of Allowable Expenses for more information.
  • For all domestic lodging within the Contiguous United States (except Iowa), the rates are governed by U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). Their per diem lookup can be found here. Since the GSA uses counties, if you are unsure what the county your destination is, you can look this up here.
  • For all domestic lodging in Alaska, Hawaii, or US Territories, the rates are established by U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). Their rates are determined at the city level, and can be found here.
  • All international lodging rates are determined by U.S. Department of State. Their rates can be found here.


I do not have an itemized hotel receipt. How can I get reimbursed for lodging?

In most cases, the hotel will gladly email or fax you an itemized copy of your hotel receipt if you forgot to get one before you left. You may submit the email or fax copy to the Procurement and Expense Specialist. Sometimes when staying at a bed and breakfast, or a very small hotel, they may give a handwritten receipt that is not itemized. In this case, simply write a brief note on the receipt that the only charges included were for room and room taxes. The intent of requiring the itemized hotel receipt is to avoid reimbursing for items such as movies, valet service, or meals claimed elsewhere.

When using an 3rd party booking website (such as hotels.com, travelocity.com, etc.) to reserve the hotel room, the hotel will not provide an itemized receipt. In this case, please write a brief note on the receipt you received from hotels.com (or a similar service) that this is the only receipt available. 3rd party booking receipts can be obtained after travel from their website.



My hotel receipt shows two adults stayed in the room. How can I get reimbursed for the correct amount?

University policy allows for reimbursement for the number of people traveling on university business. No additional charges may be reimbursed for the lodging of spouses, children or friends. If the hotel charge was based on two or more persons, the reimbursement amount should be reduced to the single rate with the taxes pro-rated.

If you stayed at a hotel that had a conference rate where the rate was the same for one as for two people, please include a brief note to that effect. No recalculation is needed in this case.



I was one of two ISU employees traveling on business and staying in the same room. I paid for the entire room, and the room was in my name. What documentation must I provide to get reimbursed

You must submit the itemized hotel receipt to your Procurement and Expense Specialist, including a note providing your roommate's name and an explanation that you are claiming the full amount, as you paid for the full amount. It is not necessary in this case to provide a copy of your credit card statement.



I was one of two ISU employees traveling on business and staying in the same room. I paid for half, but the room receipt was in the name of my roommate. What documentation must I provide to get reimbursed?

You must submit a copy of the itemized hotel receipt to your Procurement and Expense Specialist as well as a proof of payment, such as a credit card statement to verify the amount you paid. You may blacken out your card number and any charges unrelated to the hotel stay.



I was one of two ISU employees traveling on business and staying in the same room. The hotel provided separate receipts for both of us, and each receipt indicated two adults stayed in the room. The receipts were in our individual names, and each paid his/her own half. What documentation must I provide to get reimbursed?

Since the hotel receipt indicated two adults stayed in the room, add a note to explain that the charges already have been split, and give the other person's name, as well as their affiliation with ISU. Since the charge already has been split, each person can claim his/her own half.



In addition to my own room, I also paid for the separate room of a graduate student who was on the same trip. What documentation must I provide to get reimbursed?

Since even most undergraduate students have their own credit cards, this practice usually is not necessary and is discouraged. However, if it has already taken place, you must submit both itemized hotel receipts to your Procurement and Expense Specialist, as well as a proof of payment for the graduate student's room, such as a credit card statement to verify the amount you paid. You may blacken out your card number and any charges unrelated to the hotel stay. It is not necessary to submit a credit card statement for your own room.



Can I be reimbursed for staying with friends or relatives?

No reimbursement is allowed for this purpose, even if an informal receipt is provided.



Can I be reimbursed for staying using airbnb.com instead of a hotel or motel?

Yes, as long as this is less than or equal to what a hotel or motel would have been in that area. The traveler must use his/her personal credit card, as the Travel & Hospitality Card cannot be used for that purpose. Reimbursement can only take place after travel has concluded.



I am sharing an Airbnb room or house with multiple employees in effort to save costs. Am I able to go over the per diem rate?

If the average room rate per employee is under the maximum lodging rate determined by the per diem rate of the location, then the room/house is allowed to go over the rate.

Example: if three employees stay in an Airbnb for $270 per night, and the per diem rate is $100 per night, then the average per employee is $90 per night, which is allowable. If the room was more than $300 per night room rate, this would still be unallowable.

Note: This also applies when sharing hotel rooms with ISU employees.



If I go over the maximum room rate based on per diem rates in my area, do I fully get reimbursed for taxes and fees?

No. If you go over the maximum rate allowed for lodging, the taxes must be reimbursed at a prorated rate, based on the percentage of the lodging rate that is allowable. Flat fees can still be fully reimbursed.

Example: If the lodging room rate is $150 per night, but the allowed rate is $100, all applicable taxes must be reimbursed at a prorated rate of 66.6% ($100/$150). If the total taxes added up to $18, then the allowable reimbursement would be 66.6% of $18, or $12.



Do ISU employees qualify for a state rate when staying at Iowa hotels?

Some Iowa hotels offer a state rate that was negotiated by the Iowa Department of Administrative Services. A list of hotels, rates, and contact information is available here. If the last column on the spreadsheet (Political Subdivision) has a "Y," ISU employees are eligible for the state rate. If the last column has an "N," ISU employees are not eligible.



This page was last updated on August 3, 2021.